The Loop Newspaper - Tehachapi's Online Community News & Entertainment Guide

By Victoria Alwin

Artificial sweeteners

Nutrition Corner


For some time there have been concerns about the safety of artificial sweeteners such as sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (NutraSweet), acesulfame K (Ace K ), neotame (Sunett), etc. One of the most maligned artificial sweeteners, saccharine, even has the warning that it can cause cancer. This statement is true IF you are a Canadian white rat who drinks the equivalent of six cases of diet soda per day for several months. At the end of such an ordeal, would it matter if you had cancer? If you are reading this article, I doubt that you are a rat, Canadian or not.

Aspartame does get metabolized into methane (as do many other foods called “gas formers”) and formaldehyde (also created by other foods). Early studies suggested that heating aspartame containing beverage to over 200 degrees can cause this change (think diet soda in a closed car on a Bakersfield summer day). If you keep any drink in a really hot space for an extended period of time, why would you want to drink it? The concern should be how much aspartame can be hazardous.

Sucralose has been compared to sugar but is, like many other artificial foods, created in a laboratory. Is it exposed to chlorine and other chemicals? Yes. Is it dangerous? Most likely NOT when used IN MODERATION.

Stevia is a natural sweetener from a plant approved as a food additive for the US in 2008, but has been used in Japan for decades. Agave is a sugar and has a similar effect as honey.

Are artificial sweeteners safe for diabetics to use? Again, as in all things, the safety of any of these sweeteners comes in how much of them are used. “Moderation” does not mean drinking a two liter bottle or more of diet soda per day. Nor even a six pack of diet soda. Try closer to eight ounces of diet soda per day. Currently it does not seem that these sweeteners can raise serum blood sugars.

For decades, there have been unsubstantiated rumors that artificial sweeteners are poisonous, which the FDA has denied. All have been tested. However, a new study reported in the journal Physiology and Behavior (June 2015) looked at previous studies, bringing up the possible effects of these products on obesity, how the body uses the artificial sweeteners, and what effects in general that they might have on the body. The researchers did conclude that the artificial sweeteners DID have an effect on the body, but exactly what it was needed further researching.

Are these products really safe? The good news is that, at this time, the research done shows that they are NOT POISONOUS. Will they help you lose weight? Not as much as you would hope. Sweet, even artificial sweet, seems to beget the desire for more sweet, usually the caloric kind. The safest route: use natural sweeteners as little as possible. It isn’t the one teaspoon of real sugar that will raise blood sugars, but the fifteen tablespoons in chocolate cake.


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